Despite the visitors having to play on successive nights after concluding a 9-1 aggregate thrashing of Mladost Podgorica in Europa League qualifying, the Spaniards always looked the sharper side and went into the break two goals to the good thanks to strikes from Vitolo and Marko Marin, the latter a loanee from Chelsea.
And although United were sharper after the break and pulled one back through Antonio Valencia, Sevilla could have had a hatful more and put the game to bed with a winner on full-time through substitute Bryan Rabello.
Ferdinand was immediately called into defensive action, heading behind from the lively Marin in the opening minute. But the first clear-cut chance of the match fell to United, Beto saving well from Angelo Henriquez after being played in by fellow striker Adnan Januzaj. Alex Buttner then saw his speculative effort from outside the box spilled by Beto but Henriquez was just too late on the scene to follow up.
But that would be as good as it would get for United for the next half hour as Sevilla ramped up the heat, with Marin and Diego Perotti running the show in midfield. Sevilla had a close penalty shout turned down when Carlos Bacca went down under a challenge from Shinji Kagawa but moments later the visitors were ahead, Vitolo sliding the ball under David de Gea from Perotti’s neat through ball.
Three minutes later and it was two, Bacca feeding Vitolo who crossed for Marin to sidefoot into an unguarded net. United were at sixes and sevens and Marin almost made it three, shooting just wide of a sprawling De Gea.
The out-of-sorts Kagawa should have given United a way back into the match but headed straight at Beto from Valencia’s cross. The home team then had their own keeper to thank for keeping them in the match, De Gea saving Marin’s effort onto the crossbar.
Still Sevilla pressed, Bacca firing over when it was easier to score as United went into the break grateful to be just 2-0 down.
With United needing more urgency, Moyes rang the changes after the break, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick, Wilfried Zaha and Jesse Lingard all coming on. But it was United’s best player on the night Januzaj who created the goal for Valencia after his initial shot was blocked. Lingard then just failed to get onto the end of Fabio’s teasing cross before Zaha forced Beto into a save from an acute angle.
Sevilla substitute Israel Puerto somehow contrived to stab wide from two yards out after De Gea blocked Tiberio Guarente’s shot before Zaha squandered another opportunity at the other end, shooting marginally wide.
But that would have been harsh on Sevilla and the visitors wrapped up a deserved victory, Rabello slotting home from Kevin Gameiro’s neat pass.
United must move on quickly from this and Moyes will be feeling the pressure as his side face Wigan in Sunday’s Community Shield.